B&B 2-in-1 Round 9: Metamorpho vs. Nighthawk

Batman leads 6 to 2, but having just pulled off B&B's 100th issue, he might decide to sleep on his laurels, opening the field up to Ben Grimm and his Amazing Friends! But this one is especially interesting because Batman's guest-star is kind of the Ben Grimm of the DC Universe, while Ben's guest-star was literally based on Batman!

In the black corner... it's Batman and Metamorpho, written by Bob Haney and drawn by Jim Aparo, Brave and the Bold #101, Cold Blood, Hot Gun!

In the orange corner... we have the Thing and Nighthawk, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Ron Wilson and Pablo Marcos, Marvel Two-in-One #34, A Monster Walks Among Us!


The Stars
Commissioner Gordon isn't even trying to solve crimes anymore, is he? A guy falls off a skyscraper and he turns to Batman to determine if it's a suicide or a murder. And since the building has no opening windows, it's pretty clear...  At least Batman proves himself a sharp detective, drawing logical conclusions and reading messages off typewriter ribbons (1972, kids!). He's so proud of his deductions and the information he bullies out of street connections, he's even ready to gamble his cape on it!
And immediately suffers from accuser's remorse, though in the end, yeah, he was right. He DOES stupidly assume the killer will go through his list of victims in order though. So maybe keep that arrogance in check? +5 Bat-points

Though Alicia is nowhere to be seen, Ben is still on the extended London vacation he's been hypnotized into forgetting. So does it seem short, or long and uneventful? Probably the latter, since he admits to having "itchy pants" while waiting for the Deathlok to be revived. And as soon as the ol' cyborg from the future is better, Ben's scientist friend is off reviving other monsters (I guess that's his expertise). Ben does very little to pass the time, so he won't have too much else to forget. Essentially, it's just him ripping a bell out of country church's belfry to create a fire-fighting bucket.
Slick move, but it isn't much. +3 points

The Guests
By the time Bob Haney returns to his elemental creation in this issue, Rex Mason hadn't been seen since 1968's Metamorpho #17, almost four years, and he was set to start appearing regularly in an Action Comics back-up the very next month. But while the storyline left dangling at the end of Rex's series isn't addressed, Haney DOES explain where Metamorpho's BEEN for the past 3+ years!
Oh, that's a little disturbing. But it was all part of a cure Rex was undergoing to make himself human again. It might have worked too, if only he'd been in there the required 4 years. But Simon Stagg had good reason to take him out of the acid bath early: His daughter (and Metamorpho's lover) Sapphire is on the hit list the Batman's uncovered! Well, chalk-face or not, Rex still gets hot passionate kisses from her, though I guess that makes sense. He's been away for three years. Then again, when she gets cabin fever, breaks out of the family home and winds up a captive of the villain, it looks like she doesn't waste time falling into Batman's arms and calling Rex an "awful thing".
He gives as good as he gets though, making sure to rub Sapphire's nose in the fact she drives an environment destroyer. He tracked her by following her pollution with his nose! I would have been disappointed if he didn't get to save his love (as opposed to letting Batman do it), and he does. At the end of a car-unicycle chase, he catches her as she is thrown from the vehicle, in his hands made out of couches. +6 Bat-points

Rich Kyle Richmond is really Nighthawk and he doesn't really cares who knows. His London HQ board of directors doesn't bat a collective eye when he gets to a meeting late because he had to deal with his own plane's hijacking over Uganda (quite the detour), and he shares the information with the Thing between panels. Though the original (Squadron Supreme) Nighthawk was modeled on Batman, he shares none of the Bat's secret identity anxieties, and is a lot more worried about losing his fortune with bad business decisions. He does a LITTLE more than Ben this issue, though it's mostly flying around. He does save some kids from a hospital fire, though.
"Uncle Nighthawk" tells them to hug the floor despite the fact the artist draws more smoke ON the floor, but that's really not his fault. He was just following the script. +4 points

The Villains
A one-armed killer with no name? Where did Haney get the idea? (Harrumph.) This contract killer is cool as ice and will try to kill you the minute you try to renege on a deal. And he's never caught, not even by the World's Greatest Detective despite the fact that he pulls bonehead moves like typing up the list of his intended victims on the first victim's typewriter. Uhm... But forget all that, this guy can make your death look like a suicide or an accident, OR he can blow you up with his artificial arm bomb!
When this thing isn't ticking away, he uses it to hit you with the strength of a baseball bat! Of course, he wouldn't have anyone to kill if no one hired him, and in this case it's one of the Fairbairn brothers who is so desperate their estate NOT be sold (let's just say he's a little obsessed with his Fairbairn ancestors buried in the back yard), he wants Bounty Hunter (no arm and no "the") to kill everyone who put in a bid. Real estate, amIright? +7 Bat-points, and it's mostly the arm bomb thing

Nighthawk's company employs the Thing's scientist friend to take a strange creature trapped in rock from the Tunguska site. Meet -- the Shambler!
This thing doesn't just LOOK like the Man-Thing, it also reads emotions like the Man-Thing does, and though monstrous, wants to do the right thing, save kids from burning buildings and so forth. He has a cultural imperative to HELP! So why does a hunter called Mark Soames (any relation to Aaron Soames, the Mauler?) shoot it dead by story's end? Well, the dude's daughter gets herself hurt when she encounters the alien, and he jumps to conclusions. BECAUSE HUMANS ARE THE MONSTERS! (Please don't say it, Marv Wolfman. Don't go to that cliché. Please, please don't go there.) We don't get a whole lot of information on the Shambler, except that it's been trapped in rock since 1903 and that it keeps using "Xandu" as a swear word. What's that obscure sorcerer got to do with this? Between the misunderstood monster - ow my pathos! - and the real monster (come on, Wolfman, we get it, no need to say it)... +5 points

Odds vs. Ends
From Brave and the Bold:
-What I didn't know about the Gotham City Police Department: It has a super-computer programmed with everyone's toothpaste preferences. Huh. +1 Bat-point
-I need to give Sapphire Stagg her own score here, because she runs out on her father and Rex's security (to go to an illegal gambling den, no less) by dressing up as an Asian male servant...
...and leaving a supple life-like doll in her place.
WHAT THE HELL, SAPH. Now she's "loose and in danger", but guys, guys, guys, this isn't the kind of woman you ever had a handle on. And she's more of danger to others than to herself. +3 Bat-points

From Marvel Two-in-One:
-If you were wondering what the hell kind of deer that's supposed to be in the Shambler pic, wait 'til you see the "outskirts of London":
It's a lot more tropical than you'd think. And more filled with Great White Hunters like Soames. Did Ron Wilson even READ the script? -2 points
-When your comic presents dangerous behavior, you put up warnings.
And you SHOW the possible consequences. Oh comics, you used to be so responsible. +1 point

Farewells and Scoring
Friendly farewell: Not friendly at all, but I told you, Rex is basically DC's answer to Ben Grimm. It almost HAD to be unfriendly. No one's listening to you, Rex. +0 Bat-points
Unfriendly farewell: WHO'S THE MONSTER, MISTER? WHO'S THE MONSTER?! Oh Marv, you went there. Sigh. If this is their farewell, it's kind of mean. Nighthawk, dude, Ben is standing right there while you're screaming about monsters. +2 points

Bonus unfriendly farewell: Because Ben is really taking part in longer story arcs, some of the farewells come a little late. Case in point, Nick Fury and Deathlok.
That's Nick Fury telling Ben he smoked the box of Cuban cigars he'd promised him for taking care of Deathlok. SHIELD employees, read the fine print before signing on that line, I guess! +2 points

Not even close. Metamorpho's return nets him 22 points, while Nighthawk manages a meek 15. We're now at 7 to 2, and getting closer to the point of no-winning. I'm not hopeful Two-in-One can reverse the trend so long as Marv Wolfman is at the helm. At least Ron Wilson takes a break as of next issue.


SallyP said...

Have to give this one to Batman as well. Aparo art always helps, not to mention Metamorpho. Man I do like Metamorpho!

Plus I can't stand Nighthawk.

Siskoid said...

I found it hard to love a lot of the 2nd generation Defenders.


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